80 BLOCKS FROM TIFFANY’S (1979)

(YouTube) A pointed documentary on the gangs of the South Bronx in the 70s by Gary Weis (who at the time was working with Albert Brooks on filmed SNL bits), inspired by the Esquire feature SAVAGE SKULLS.

While Weis often uncomfortably inserts his privileged white, outsider self into the interview room with his subjects, he doesn’t edit out the folks that call him out on his motives, and he does make an effort to dig into the personalities of those embroiled in gang life. The end result is a number of strange profile pieces and re-enactments that feel like an ill-fitting but important portrait of 70s New York City.

Sadly, the doc has only had the barest of releases — it was shot to fill time during a SNL summer hiatus only to be scrapped by NBC execs, then used as an educational film for a bit, then had a limited DVD print run over ten years ago — but you can view it (albeit with abrupt commercial interruptions) here: